Cigarette and Joint Smokers Weigh in on Both

By David Jenison on October 10, 2017

"Psychosocial and cessation-related differences between tobacco-marijuana co-users and single product users in a college student population," for the February 2018 edition of Addictive Behaviors, studied 721 college students in Georgia between the ages of 18 and 25. In terms of reported use in the past four months, 238 students smoked cigarettes, 331 smoked cannabis and 152 smoked both. When asked about quitting either or both substances, the students overwhelmingly sought to stop smoking cigarettes yet with significantly less success. 

"Importance was rated higher for quitting cigarettes versus marijuana, but confidence was rated lower for quitting cigarettes versus marijuana," the study found. Cannabis users were 53 percent more likely to say they are ready to quit at any time, but tobacco users were nearly twice as likely to try. Cannabis does not involve physical addiction, and physical dependence is mild, whereas addiction and dependence on tobacco are severe. This arguably explains why tobacco smokers had less confidence in being able to quit. 

Both cannabis and tobacco are heavily targeted with harm and cessation campaigns, but the Addictive Behaviors findings arguably suggest college students feel less compelled to quit cannabis despite feeling it would be easier to do so. This might also suggest college students see the anti-cannabis messaging as mere propaganda while taking the anti-tobacco campaigns more seriously. Possibly related to these findings, BMJ Open published a study earlier this year that found cannabis-smoking teens were typically more intelligent than their abstinent teens. 

The recreational use of cannabis, alcohol and psychedelics ideally should not start until early adulthood when young minds are more fully developed, but this study ultimately suggests that college students view tobacco as a more serious health threat despite the massive campaigns against both. 

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